The Word on the Street: Toronto

Sunday, September 25th was The Word on the Street held coast to coast in Vancouver, Lethbridge, Saskatoon, Kitchener, Toronto, and Halifax.

In Toronto, Tundra had eight authors participating, which included Helaine Becker, Cary Fagan, Nan Forler, Liza Fromer, Francine Gerstein, Monica Kulling, Shane Peacock and Heather Hartt-Sussman. We also had a booth on Kidstreet, which was well stocked with backlist titles for sale. Hardcovers were $10 and paperbacks were $5. It was a gorgeous day (sorry, Vancouver) and thousands of Torontonians flocked to Queen’s Park for this ever-growing festival.

Here are some of the highlights of the day:

First up, Shane Peacock participated in a Mastering the Mystery panel with Norah McClintock and Evan Munday, and moderated by Toronto Life’s Nathan Whitlock at the This Is Not The Shakespeare Stage.

At the Children’s Activity Tent, Nan Forler demonstrated a quilting craft then signed copies of her new book, Winterberries and Apple Blossoms: Reflections and Flavors of a Mennonite Year.

Heather Hartt-Sussman signs Noni Says No. Check out this CTV clip of her reading in the Children’s Reading Tent!

Liza Fromer and Francine Gerstein MD answer kids’ medical questions, interestingly many were about farts and burps, and then sign copies of their series, Body Works.

Shane Peacock reads from the 5th book in The Boy Sherlock Holmes series, The Dragon Turn, at the Bestsellers of Tomorrow event with authors Brian Francis and Ian Hamilton. The event was hosted by Mary Ito.

Monica Kulling reads from Merci Mister Dash! in the Children’s Reading Tent and signs book for her fans.

Helaine Becker reads from Juba This, Juba That. She also led the audience in a spirited hand-clapping routine.

Many thanks to our authors who participated and to the staff and volunteers of The Word on the Street. A special thanks goes to Festival Director, Nicola Dufficy for working so tirelessly on programming a fantastic day and for her incredible support of our authors and illustrators!

Guest Post: Ron Lightburn

Juba This, Juba That illustrator, Ron Lightburn, shares a few snapshots and his fun (he is on a boat) Word on the Street Halifax experience.

Ron Lightburn: Here are a few photos of my day with Theodore Tugboat at the Word on the Street literary festival on the Halifax waterfront.

I’ve been giving readings and presentations for twenty years, but it was truly a marvelous and memorable experience reading Juba This, Juba That on a moving boat!

My first mate, Sandra, helped out by demonstrating a hand clapping and thigh slapping routine to go with the text as I read it.  It was wonderful to hear the audience repeat the story and join in the clapping and slapping.

I handed out Juba posters, the weather was fantastic and we all had a great time!  My thanks to Tundra for making it all happen!

Guest Post: Pam Withers

We hope you were able to check out the Word on the Street yesterday! While we were blessed with beautiful weather in Toronto, author Pam Withers had a different story in Vancouver:

Pam Withers: Word on the Street is a lively readers’ and writers’ festival that takes place every year in a series of tented stages hugging the perimeter of the downtown Vancouver Public Library.

Imagine tentfuls of festival-goers listening raptly to words of all kinds: preschoolers giggling through children’s author readings, poetry lovers listening raptly to the cadence of poets reading, and book lovers of all ages and backgrounds getting to ask questions of, or collect autographs from, a favorite author. Never mind the tables upon tables of writing organizations, publishers and booksellers.

I’ve been going to this event for many, many years, and I thought I’d experienced it in every manner of weather: lashing rain, brilliant sunshine, bone-chilling cold and late-summer warmth. But ho, was I wrong!

I showed up at 1 p.m. yesterday to introduce my new Tundra book, First Descent – a teen novel about a river kayaker who goes on an international expedition and gets kidnapped. And wow, did it ever feel like a wet, windblown expedition where tents – quite literally – got kidnapped!

An entire street of volunteers and visitors found themselves clinging desperately to tent poles as gusts of wind smacked into them. Pieces of tent siding went flying like kites, and the crash/bang/boom of collapsing structures sent dozens of exhibitors packing.

I was lucky enough to be presenting on the east side of the library, where wind gusts merely spattered authors and their books with rain as audience members in sensible rain-gear filled folding chairs to listen. You know what? When you’re introducing a novel about adventurers chasing down a river amidst white-capped waves, boulder-choked rapids, whirlpools and a waterfall… what better setting, right? When you’re describing characters dealing with warring factions of soldiers, riverbank landmines, jealousy, abandonment and betrayal — you have… a book summary that makes this year’s Word on the Street feel cozy and safe!

Anyway, I had a laminated, poster-size version of First Descent’s awesome cover to hold up as I spoke, so I cheated the rain of spoiling one book that afternoon. Had to tuck my notes under a chair leg to keep them from blowing away.

I have to give major points to the valiant volunteers to kept things running, and all the dedicated book-lovers who milled about and listened and bought books. What better testimony to the fact that the printed word remains alive, well and alluring?

I was blown away and flooded with delight. Thanks, Tundra, for setting up my Word on the Street adventure!

The Word on the Street

Have you started planning out your schedule for Sunday, September 25th, 2011? Everyone is excited about the author events, presentations, workshops, and marketplace. We hope to see you at the Word on the Street festival from 11am to 6pm at Queen’s Park!

Here’s a quick glance at our schedule:


Children’s Activity Tent:
12:15pm-1:00pm – Join Nan Forler, author of Winterberries and Apple Blossoms, for a craft activity, make a quilt-inspired square, and take home your own mini wall-hanging! Ages 6 & up.

Children’s Reading Tent:
12:10pm-12:30pm – Ella May and the Wishing Stone by Cary Fagan
1:00pm-1:20pm – Noni Says No by Heather Hartt-Sussmann
1:20pm-1:40pm – Body Works series by Liza Fromer and Francine Gerstein MD
4:30pm-4:50pm – Merci Mister Dash! by Monica Kulling
5:10pm-5:30pm – Juba This, Juba That by Helaine Becker

This is Not Shakespeare Stage:
12:00pm-12:45pm – Mastering the Mystery – How to Keep Readers Guessing
How do mystery authors ensure that their book is a page-turner? How do they keeping us guessing, without compromising the integrity of their characters and the depth of the plot? What are the elements of a great mystery? Join authors Norah McClintock, Evan Munday, and Shane Peacock for a discussion of these topics and more!

Scotiabank Giller Prize Bestsellers Stage
2:00pm-3:15pm – Bestsellers of Tomorrow
The Dragon Turn: The Boy Sherlock Holmes, His Fifth Case by Shane Peacock
Summer 1869, Sherlock Holmes and his friend Irene celebrate her sixteenth birthday by attending the theater to watch a celebrated magician make a real dragon appear on stage. Sherlock and Irene meet the magician, Alistair Hemsworth – just as he is arrested for the murder of his rival, The Wizard of Nottingham. It seems that traces of the missing Wizard’s blood and his spectacles were found in Hemsworth’s secret studio. But is Hemsworth guilty? Sherlock has his doubts, and soon, so does the reader. The Dragon Turn is full of humor and plot twists as dizzying as a narrow London lane! Author Shane Peacock invites his readers along on another exciting adventure with one of literature’s all-time favorite characters.


Authors Tent
1:20pm – First Descent by Pam Withers
Montana-born Rex loves nothing more than to take his kayak out on a river, the faster and more powerful the better. When he gets the opportunity to tackle the well-named El Furioso in southwest Colombia, he is thrilled. He anticipates the river’s challenges, but finds himself in a situation where the real danger is human.

Kids Tent on Literacy Lane (Hamilton Street)
4:40pm – The Case of the Missing Deed by Ellen Schwartz
Five cousins are looking forward to their annual vacation at their grandmother’s cottage, but this may be their last summer there as a mining company has set its sights on the land. Grandma must produce the deed to prove that the property legally belongs to the family, but she can’t find it. The cousins suspect there may be clues hidden in the family’s cherished trove of recipes—but can they solve the mystery in time? Ellen Schwartz grew up in New Jersey before moving to Canada. She has written several books for children, including Avalanche Dance and Stealing Home. Ages 8–11


Juba This, Juba That illustrated by Ron Lightburn


Children’s Reading Tent:
12:00pm – Mrs Kaputnik’s Pool Hall and Matzo Ball Emporium by Rona Arato
1:30pm – Rude Stories by Jan Andrews
2:00pm – Sail Away with Me and Our Corner Grocery Store illustrated by Laura Beingessner

Telling Tales 2011

This year, the 3rd annual Telling Tales: A Family Festival of Stories is being held on Sunday, September 18, 2011 at the Westfield Heritage Village. Gates open at 9:30am and the festival ends around 4:00pm. You don’t want to miss it, Telling Tales won the 2010 Tourism Hamilton Award of Excellence – Festival of the Year!

Don’t forget to meet our authors at the festival this year:

Bradley McGogg
The Very Fine Frog
By Tim Beiser
Illustrated by Rachel Berman
Trade Paperback | 24 Pages | Ages 2-5
ISBN: 978-1-77049-276-9
Tim Beiser was born on April Fools’ Day in Los Angeles, California. After earning a degree in Economics at Rocky Mountain College in Montana, he moved to New York City where he spent sixteen years as a playwright and science fiction short-story writer. He was a writer-in-residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, and he founded the creative writing studio The Writer’s Workout in Manhattan. Like most New York artists, Tim has had many day jobs: a pastry chef, an architectural draftsman, a college teacher, a waiter, a nightclub performer, a computer repairman, and, lastly, an emergency medical technician for the Fire Department of New York, driving an ambulance. Tim received a B.A.A. in Journalism from Ryerson University and started a career as a freelance magazine writer. For his work in such publications as National Post Business, Toronto Life, Elm Street, Reader’s Digest, and Saturday Night, Tim has been nominated for four National Magazine Awards. Bradley McGogg, the Very Fine Frog is his first book for children. Tim Beiser is the proud dad of twins Rowan and Daniel, and he and his family split their time between Toronto, Canada and Grignan, France.

Capturing Joy
The Story of Maud Lewis
By Jo Ellen Bogart
Illustrated by Mark Lang
Trade Paperback | 32 Pages | Ages 8-12
ISBN: 978-1-77049-262-2
Jo Ellen Bogart is the author of many best-selling children’s books, including Big and Small, Room for All; Jeremiah Learns to Read; Daniel’s Dog; and Gifts. She has degrees in elementary education and psychology from the University of Texas, and she now writes full time. Jo Ellen has won the Ruth Schwartz Award and has been shortlisted for the Mr. Christie’s Book Award. Her first book for Tundra was a biography of Maud Lewis called Capturing Joy: The Story of Maud Lewis. Born in Houston, Texas, she now lives in a pet-filled home in Guelph, Ontario.

The Nightwood
By Robin Muller
Hardcover | 32 Pages | Ages 5-8
ISBN: 978-1-77049-209-7
Robin Muller is an internationally acclaimed author and illustrator of children’s books. He received the Studio Magazine Award for Illustration (silver) for The Nightwood, the Governor General’s Award for The Magic Paintbrush, and the 1995 IODE Award for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. He was a medalist for the Ezra Jack Keats Memorial Award. Robin Muller lives in Toronto.

Click here for photos from the festival’s first year!